The Topsail baseball team opened its best-of-three 3A East Regional series in emphatic fashion on Tuesday night as the Pirates rolled to a 7-0 victory over Corinth Holders in Hampstead.
With the win, No. 17 Topsail has now outscored its last two playoff opponents 14-0, improving to 20-9 overall.
“It was a great feeling to be able to come out of the gates like we did tonight,” said Topsail Coach Chris Blake. “The guys have really bought into having an approach at the plate, but we will need to keep our foot on the gas pedal all game come Friday. We know it’ll be a much different type of game later this week. We had a great crowd tonight and it was good to get a win for them.”
The Pirates scored all seven runs in their first at-bat. They sent 12 hitters to the plate in the bottom of the first, scoring seven runs on seven hits, aided by two errors to jump on No. 19 Corinth Holders.
After Topsail grabbed a 1-0 lead on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Sam Hall, Chase Riker doubled down the right field line to put runners on second and third.
Aaron Beach delivered a two-out 2RBI double to the gap in right-center to make it a 3-0 cushion, while Colby Emmertz reached base on a throwing error to keep the inning alive. Four straight singles followed the miscue, including run scoring base knocks by Shane Nolan, Cameron Kimrey, Josh Madole and Bryce Cota.
“We just tried to stick to hitting the ball up the middle and back side,” said Madole. “I just try to do my job no matter where I’m batting in the lineup and tonight it was good to get things going as the lead-off hitter.”
Right-handed hurler Payton Rice allowed just two hits over four innings, with two walks and two strikeouts to move to 10-1 on the hill.
Rice worked around a one-out walk in the third when he induced a ground ball unassisted double play to Riker at second base. He also used a little help from his catcher in the fourth when Emmertz used a snap back throw to pick a runner off at first, ending the Corinth Holders’ threat after putting two runners on with two outs.
William St. Ledger retired the side in order in one inning of relief and Aidan Smith came on to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth to preserve the shutout.
Kimrey, Beach and Cota each collected multi-hit games and combined for four runs batted in. Kimrey smacked a two-out double in the fourth, while Cota finished 2-for-3 at the plate. Madole also reached base four times in the lead-off spot.
“The coaches said we just need to flush this win out of our minds,” Madole added. “It’ll be a different atmosphere on Friday night. Our work ethic over the last few weeks has really changed. We’re focused in and with our goals still reachable, I think we’re in a great spot right now.”
Topsail now sits one win away from clinching its second 3A state championship appearance in three years. With a 1-0 series lead, the Pirates travel to Wendell for game two of the 3A East Regional against Corinth Holders on Friday, May 27.
Box score R H E
Corinth Holders 000 000 0 0 3 2
Topsail 700 000 X 7 9 0
WP: Payton Rice LP: Tyler Brown
3A baseball: No. 19 Corinth Holders (19-8) vs. No 17 Topsail (20-9)
Game 1: Topsail 7 Corinth Holders 0; Game 2: on Friday, May 27 at Corinth Holders; Game 3: *if necessary, 3p.m. at Topsail on Saturday, May 28